Most of the changes he made in the kink department hit at least one of her buttons. She'd thought those feelings gone for good, but on several occasions caught herself looking wistfully at the equipment in his playroom, the empty spot in her heart threatening to drag her back into the throes of despair once again. She'd handled it though, determined not to sink into the pain.
Today was the closing walk-through and Zach had requested she bring her final invoice so they could complete their business together. Finishing the project would spare her the frequent reminders of her old life, but she would miss their weekly meetings with Zach's special cinnamon and vanilla coffee.
If she were honest with herself, she'd admit it wasn't the coffee she would miss—it was Zach. He was exacting, but kind, and somehow managed to be a perfectionist without being difficult. He was smart, and funny, and had taken the disruptions to his home in stride. She'd miss his gentle voice asking her how she was doing, and those blue eyes looking as if they genuinely cared.
As they finished the walk-through he said, “I can't tell you how much I love what you've done. There's enough of her around I don't feel as if I've tried to exorcise her from my life, but you made the house distinct to my tastes and I want you to know I appreciate it. This process has helped me heal, in large part due to your thoughtfulness and consideration. I even had a girlfriend a few months, though we've long since separated. Did you bring your final invoice?"
He took the manila envelope she offered and motioned towards a sofa. “Please, have a seat. I'll be right back."
Dana thought it odd he'd had a girlfriend while she worked with him, as she hadn't seen evidence of a woman in the house, or of play equipment being used. She'd dated someone a short time also but it still seemed wrong he'd had a relationship she hadn't known about.
He was only gone a few moments before striding into the room with purpose and placing a smaller envelope on the table beside her. “Final check. I believe this ends our business transaction?"
She slid the envelope into her purse and stood. “Yes. It's been a pleasure working with you. If you need anything else, please don't hesitate to contact me. “
As she turned towards the door he said, “I'd like to ask you out. On a date."
Dana's insides ignited. She'd harbored a secret attraction to him for so long, safe behind her rule about not dating clients, and she suddenly realized she'd just lost her protective barrier.
She'd been out on dates, gone out with a nice gentleman over the weekend, in fact. However, submitting would be... no, she'd only kneeled for Garnet. She couldn't surrender her will to anyone else.
Pivoting on one foot, she made sure her back was straight and looked him in the eye, working hard to pull off the Domme look. “You still have no idea of whether I'm a Top or bottom, Zach. I'm flattered, but I'm afraid it wouldn't work."
He spoke quietly. Earnestly. “You're submissive. We run in different circles so I had difficulty finding someone who knew you. A friend who used to live in Nashville remembered you, had seen you and your husband playing together. I'm not the only one who's lost a spouse and turned their libido off. The difference is, I've switched mine back on. I want to help stimulate yours again, too."
Her eyes began to water—not from sadness, but because she was pissed. “You had no right, Mr. Irving. My husband passed away a few weeks after your wife. I sold our home and bought a condo downtown within months of his death, drastically downsizing and giving away most of our shared belongings. You have no idea what I've done to move through my grief."
He continued in the same soft voice. “You were submissive to him, and you're a masochist. I don't know if you were twenty-four/seven or only his during scenes.” He smiled, his crystal blue eyes daring her to deny his next words. “I know you like the cage in my bedroom though."
She sank into the nearest chair, deflated but no longer angry. “That's all you found out? Descriptions of our public play at the club?"
He nodded and she dropped her gaze to her feet a moment before standing again. She wasn't submissive anymore, and looking up wasn't working for her.
"Tell me what you're seeking. What type of relationship do you envision for your future?” She only asked so she could shoot him down with reasons it wouldn't work—no matter how attracted to him she may be, her submission had only belonged to Garnet.
She told herself if Zach weren't a Dom they might have a chance; but a little voice in her head whispered she wouldn't be drawn to him if he were vanilla.
Taking a seat on a nearby sofa, Zach looked up and said, “I want someone else to love—to share my life with, grow old with. I'm a Dom, so they'll need to get off on submitting to my control in the bedroom and playroom; but otherwise I don't have any specific requirements in mind."